Hallmarking Not Practical At This Stage, Say Jewellers

New Delhi, Nov 9: | Updated: Nov 10 2003, 05:30am hrs
The jewellers, though admitting the fact that right price should be charged from consumers for the declared purity, are of the view that proposed mandatory hallmarking of gold and silver jewellery is not a practical option at this stage.

The jewellery exporters have said that hallmarking of jewellery in the country has no definite impact. The exported jewellery are hallmarked for purity in the destination country even if they are hallmarked in India. Hence, the hallmarking of jewellery before exports practically has no meaning, said Mr VK Jain, president, Delhi Exporters Association.

Mr Kranti Kumar Parikh of Delhi Gold Jewellers Association said: It would be difficult to hallmark antique, enamel and fine fabricated jewellery. It will also be difficult to hallmark jewellery studded with stones. Only plain modern jewellery can be hallmarked.

Mr Gurditta Mal Babbar, president of Karol Bagh Sarafa Association in Delhi, said that the existing system for hallmarking cannot vouch for purity in definite terms. He said: If the jewellery is to be judged for its purity, it has to be melted and then tested. No such machines have yet been developed which can judge the purity of the jewellery without melting it. Even if a part of the jewellery is cut and melted for testing it cannot vouch for the purity of the entire jewellery as the product may be made in pieces and then wielded together.

Mr Prem Khanna, general secretary of the All-India Sarafa Association said that the motive behind the concept is good, but it may not solve the real problem. He alleged that there are many who are selling jewellery at prices which are marginally lower than the market prices and consumers are eager to purchase. These jewellery may be of substandard quality. The government, in this case, is unable to book these culprits, while it is ready to take action against those who declare the purity of their jewellery. He said that if the the hallmarking of jewellery is made mandatory it will invite an extra botheration.

He cautioned that if the government is intending to make hallmarking mandatory, it should give sufficient time to jewellers either dispose of their stocks or convert them to gold for reuse. He said that implementation of mandatory hallmarking scheme will be difficult for small jewellers, particularly those in rural and semi-urban areas.

He also said that this mandatory hallmarking may give rise to another kind of inspector-raj. He suggested that instead of making a mandatory provision for hallmarking education of jewellers and consumers is necessary.

Optional hallmarking of golden jewellery was introduced in the country by the Bureau of India Standards (BIS) and World Gold Council (WGC) in 2000. Twelve hallmarking centres were set up across the country, including three in Delhi and two in Mumbai. The cost of setting up of a hallmarking centre is about Rs 6 million. The nodal agency, BIS claims that so far over 500 jewellers have come forward for hallmarking. BIS has five regional offices, 19 branch offices and five inspection labs.

Jewellery are hallmarked for both fineness and purity. Hundred per cent pure with fineness of 999 per 1000 parts is defined as 24 carat, 91.7 per cent pure with fineness of 917 per 1000 parts is defined as 22 carat, 75 per cent pure with fineness of 750 per 1000 parts is defined as 18 carat and 58.3 per cent pure with fineness of 583 per 1000 parts is defined as 14 carat. Hallmarked jewellery carries five marks, namely the BIS logo, the finess number, mark of the hallmarking centre, the year of hallmarking and the jewellers mark.